Culture

Maha Shivaratri

Consequently he blessed the hungry hunter. It is believed that he was born in a royal family in the next birth. So, Mahashivaratri is considered the festival of rags to riches in true sense of the term because Lord Shiva is the all-seeing guardian-deity of Hindus. He does not distinguish between pauper and prince devotees.

By RD Rakesh

Maha Shivaratri

Mithila is a mystical and mythological land. It has been a legendary and sacred pilgrimage place from time immemorial. It is a religious and pious place, renowned in the field of philosophy. Yajnavalkya, the great sage, Maitrei and Gargi famous philosophers were born in Mithila. Shavism and Vaishamavism are two prominent religious of this mysterious land. Though Lord Buddha ‘the light of Asia’ was born in Lumbini, Buddhism is not prevalent in Mithila. It is a matter of wonder and moreover a subject of research.

Shavism is the oldest religious cult prevalent in Mithila and it has a deep impact on the life and culture of the people of this land. Consequently there is a Shiva temple in each and every village of Mithila. It is believed that, if Shiva is invoked sincerely, then he is pleased immediately and fulfills the desires and aspirations of his devotees in no time. So Shavism is very popular and still predominant in Mithila.

Our country Nepal is known as a holy land of Shiva because of the world famous temple of Lord Pashupatinath from the Vedic period. This truth has also been proved that Shiva is a vedic God. He is also believed to be a God of creation, sustence, decadence and destruction. It is believed that there is a strong philosophical background of Shavism in Mithila from time immemorial.

Thus Shavism has distinct and deep influence on the daily life of the Hindu community in Mithila. The people of Mithila worship Lord Shiva Maheswor (the great Lord of all gods) on the auspicious occasion of Shivaratri which is thirteenth day of the dark fortnight of Phalguna (Feb-March).

Kalhan in his Rajatarangani states that on this auspicious occasion, the King also observed it with great respect and reverence.

The court artists performed several programmes of dancing and singing. Poetic gatherings were organised. The poets were praised and rewarded for the best works. Feasts were served to invite guests on this holy occasion.

Alberuni has stated that on the following night they worship Mahadev throughout, remain awake and do not lie down to sleep, and offer to him perfume and flowers. On Shivaratri, people of all classes go to nearby temples to worship the ‘linga’, the aniconic representation of Shiva.

According to the ancient scriptures, Shiva manifests himself in the form of a huge flaming linga (Jyotirlinga) on the auspicious occasion of Shivaratri to bestow his gracious mercy on his devotees. They worship him and keep vigil whole night at least with one leaf of the Bilwa tree.

They also fast on the auspicious occasion of Shivaratri.

According to the Isana Samhita, Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of a huge Jyotirlinga, to determine who is the greatest divinity among trinity (Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma).

To decide the quarrel and determine the divinity, the three gods agreed that he should be considered the greatest, which should first find out the end of the blazing column of fire, which was burning before them. According to this agreement, Vishnu undertook to reach the base and Brahma the top; but they never succeeded in this search in thousand years of time. They returned being disappointed and desperate. They confessed the superior supernatural power of Lord Shiva. This proves supremacy of Shiva over Vishnu and Brahma.

All people irrespective of caste and creed are permitted to worship Shiva on this holy occasion. The poor people are satisfied by pouring pure water with Bilwa trees leaves and fresh flowers. Rich people offer sweets and several kinds of gifts to Lord Shiva on this auspicious occasion. Lord Shiva especially prefers the offerings of Bilwa leaves (Bel or Bengal quince) Shriphal (meaning the fruit of plenty) Dhatura (thorn apple), Akchhat (rice) and sandal paste.

Devotees of Shiva throng to the Shiva temples to offer prayers on this pious occasion. They sing devotional songs which are called Nachari.

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